Andy Murray spurned a remarkable seven match points as he crashed out in the first round of the Rolex Paris Masters to German lucky loser Dominik Koepfer.
The Scot had looked set to rally from the brink of defeat after defying Koepfer when the German served for the match at 5-4 in the second set.
But having reeled off two successive breaks of serve to force a decider, Murray missed his first two match points on the Koepfer serve at 5-4, before blowing five more in an 18-minute tie-break to fall 6-4 5-7 7-6 (9).
It capped an amazing shift in fortunes for Koepfer, who had been thumped 6-3 6-0 by Miomar Kecmanovic in the final round of qualifying only to earn a second chance following the withdrawal of Murray’s original opponent, Jenson Brooksby.
Koepfer looked set to take full advantage as Murray started in listless fashion, falling a double-break down before dropping the first set, then losing his serve again in the first game of the second.
But when Koepfer failed to serve out for the match it seemed the momentum had swung back towards Murray, who looked determined to advance at a tournament where his victory in 2016 sealed his rise to world number one.
If his current ambitions are more modest, Murray looked as hungry as ever as he saved three break points to hold for 4-3 before fashioning his first of many match-winning opportunities at 5-4.
This time it was Koepfer who rallied, forcing a final set tie-break in which he saved five more match point chances for Murray, the best of which with a flashing cross-court backhand to drag the breaker back level at 6-6.
In stark contrast to Murray, Koepfer would need just one chance to seal victory, a long forehand from Murray bringing an end to the drama and sending the exasperated Scot out of the tournament.
“I don’t think I deserved to win,” Murray admitted. “Obviously, I had a ton of opportunities at the end, but the way that I was playing tonight was not good enough.
“I found out (about the new opponent) post-practice, so that potentially could explain the slow start. But then, once I was into the match, I just made mistake after mistake.”